Last week was a well-timed kickoff of my online virtual Zoom study for Discovering Jesus…
There are times when we just don’t have enough wisdom, strength or skill to know exactly what we are supposed to do. It may be with a project at work or you may be looking for work. It may be with a situation in your marriage or you may be wondering if you should get married. It may be a situation with a family member or close friend that needs to be confronted and you are not sure how to best approach it. It may be a problem that needs solved at work for which you lack clarity. The reality is that we all face situations that get our attention by testing our abilities.
King Jehoshaphat found himself there in 2 Chronicles 20. Three of the neighboring tribes had banded together to attack his kingdom. It surprised him because these were the three territories that God had not allowed Israel to invade when they entered the Promised Land from Egypt. God had compassion on them and spared them so Jehoshaphat assumed they would be grateful allies. Instead, they were planning to attack and the king was perplexed, “See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance.” (v. 11) In addition, Judah lacked the military numbers to confidently go into battle against this unexpected coalition. “We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us.” (v. 12)
It is moments such as these that test us to see whether we will rely on our own pride or honestly declare our case before our God to seek his wisdom. In a moment of honesty, the king humbly laid out the situation with the willingness to do whatever God advised him. He then made one the most strategic statements of his life, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (v. 12) I have been, and I suspect you have too, in this type of predicament so many times I have lost count. Conversations get started and I have no idea where to go with it. Meetings get complicated and seem to be headed for conflict. Projects hit snags and threaten to make everyone involved irritated. Finances are sorely lacking for legitimate and relentless needs. The times I have prayed, “God, I have no idea what to say or do next. Do you have anything to share with me?” have generally seen positive outcomes. The times I ignored this kind of honesty and plowed through on my own have usually ended up as a bad story to tell.
God was obviously pleased with Jehoshaphat’s vulnerability because he responded miraculously. First God told them to come as spectators to the contest. “For the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. You will not have to fight this battle.” (v. 15-17) Second, the people who were armed for battle formed a choir and began to sing praises to their God. (v. 21) Third, “As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.” (v. 22) Fourth, by the time the King and his men arrived at the battlefield, the skirmish was over. Fifth, the only job left was to gather the plunder which took three days to do. (v. 25)
This was an awesome moment in the history of Judah but we know God doesn’t always work this way. Sometimes the advice is, “Go, fight this battle for I am with you.” At times the instructions are, “Do not face this enemy but take refuge for it is not time.” Now and then, God’s counsel is, “You are not ready and need to commit to further preparation.” But, every once in a while, God just intervenes and says, “You will not have to fight this battle.” Regardless of how God answers, it is always wise in moments of honesty to pray, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”